need to feel left out. You deal with what you have. First you need to be in a stable
condition because no dialysis centre want to look after you if you are sickly. Yes you
have kidney failure and maybe diabetes but other than that you need to be HIV free,
Hepatitis free, no heart problems and no other serious medical ailments. Your local
unit will take you with all your problems but not the transient location.
The transient centre will need your dialysis centre to fax them up to date
information about your current state of health. This means you got to do test and do them well in advance of your trip a good month or two. You know how the wheels of motion move slowly getting information from the hospital and transmitting that information.
A standard request from a dialysis unit will require: Current Medical History
and Physical Report, Blood Work consisting of : Renal Profile, CBC, INR and hepatitis
and MRSA, Dialysis prescription, most recent EKG, last three dialysis treatment sheets,
and a list of all current medications.
Make sure you have the name of the nurse in charge, her phone number and fax
number as you will need to provide all this information to your unit and also for your
own use in case you need to call and verify they have all that they need. Use email
if you have to especially for out of Canada trips.
Keep on top of things and find out if your unit has sent all the requested
information. In most cases a nephrologists at the other end would likely review the
information received and give the go ahead for you to come on down.
Your bags are packed and you are ready to leave on your long awaited vacation
Double check and triple check that you have all your required medications. Ensure that you have sufficient amounts to last the duration of your trip. If you are on
hemodialysis you most likely would have a cooler with your Epo, Eprex. This is an
expensive medication that is given for free in Canada for patients who needs it. If you
have a catheter in your neck, make sure you walk with some extra dressing in case you
have a mishap and need to change the dressing before getting to a dialysis centre.
If you are on PD, you are well aware that advance arrangements have to be made
with your dialysis supplier to either provide you with all the necessary fluids and supplies or have it waiting for you at your destination.
Take no chances with your dialysis needs. Do not store them in your cargo
luggage rather, carry your medications and Epo in your carry on luggage. You do not
want to reach your destination and your luggage is in another Country and you have
to wait, if you are lucky, a whole week to get your luggage or perhaps after the vacation
If you live in Canada, you are in the lucky bunch. Dialysis is expensive. It is a
free treatment in Canada if you have a valid Ontario Hospital Insurance Plan (OHIP). If
you are vacationing within Canada your OHIP card will be sufficient to get treatment free of charge. If you are vacationing in the United States you would need to call the Centre to find out the prices. In the West Indian Islands like St. Lucia, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad etc. one treatment can cost US$320. so a two week vacation needing
three treatments a week can run you US$1920. (Prices in 2011)
Your Dialysis Centre has a list of dialysis centres all over the world. You can
also go on the website: www.globaldialysis.com and get a wealth of information including address and phone numbers of over 161 worldwide dialysis centres.
In Canada OHIP will reimburse you $210. per dialysis treatment when you get
back. It is imperative that you get a detailed statement if you want to get your refund
from the OHIP office. For example you cannot submit a bill for $2000. for dialysis
treatment. Your bill should state the individual dates that you got treatment. Otherwise if you submit one bill with one amount you are just going to get a refund for $210. which is the maximum payable by OHIP.
To avoid any confusion, I traveled to Trinidad and St. Lucia on vacation. I
purchased five International Money Orders and paid by credit card for the sixth
treatment. Hence I had a bill for each treatment. Besides, in the Caribbean Islands
you have to pay first before you get any treatment. So make sure your credit cards
are problem free if you plan on paying with credit cards. Money first then dialyse.
In Canada, if you need assistance paying for your dialysis, arrangements can be made well in advance for a medical loan from the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Loans of up to six treatments can be obtained equivalent to the amount OHIP will reimburse you. For example: In the Islands, dialysis treatment is US$320. per treatment. If you do dialysis three times a week and went for two weeks you would need to pay
US$1,920. for the six treatments. OHIP will reimburse you $210. x 6 = CDN $1260.
You can obtain a loan from the Kidney Foundation for CDN$1260. and you have about four to five months to pay it back. Hopefully you would have received your payment from OHIP or have it assigned directly to the Kidney Foundation.
You have to factor in transportation cost to and from dialysis when figuring out
your vacation budget. In Ontario dialysis patients have access to wheel-trans which
is a special transportation for people with disabilities. If you do not have a wheelchair
or a motorized scooter then regular taxis are sent to pick and drop you off when the
need arises. You pay the same fare as going on the bus or train. You can arrange to
be on a fixed prearranged booking or you can call the day before to book for the next
I traveled to Halifax and had a bit of difficulty arranging transportation pick up
and drop off. To book the wheel-trans service you are to book one week in advance
and there is no guarantee that you are going to get a ride. It is difficult to book one week in advance if you are on vacation because the dialysis centre books you all over the place. They may book you in the morning, afternoon or evening shift. Sometimes you have to wait till the last session to find out what your time is for the next session. When you have no ride then you have to either take a taxi or get a family or friend to drop you off and pick you up.
Once you get over all your hurdles you simply arrange your sightseeing around
your schedules, enjoy the local cuisines and have a fantabulous time.
I came across Bill Peckham, who has dialyzed in 22 countries and five continents. He really enjoys his vacations. One of his trips was to the Grand Canyon where he used a generator to power his dialysis. He is an inspiration to all dialysis travelers. Check his blog: Dialysis from the sharp end of the needle